General — 03 June 2008 — by The Caribbean Disaster Emergency Response Agency
Message: Heavy rain across Belize causing rivers in southern and northern Belize to crest their banks.
Event: Tropical Storm Arthur, formed on Saturday afternoon May 31, 2008 and immediately made landfall in northern Belize on the Yucatan Peninsula. Before becoming the first storm of the Atlantic Hurricane Season, Tropical Storm Arthur was Tropical Storm Alma which developed in the Eastern Pacific on May 27. TS Alma and Arthur dumped approximately 10 inches of rain over the last 36 hours across Belize causing flooding in low lying areas.
Prognosis: As of June 2nd the remnants of Arthur will continue to produce 5 to 10 inches of rain over the northern districts over the next 24 hours. Redevelopment of this system is not expected but the associated heavy rains could cause life-threatening flash floods and mud slides especially in mountainous terrain during the next couple of days as it moves away from Belize.
Flood warning remains in effect for the southern and northern districts of Belize.
Impact: The heavy rains over the last 36 hours have caused the rivers in the northern districts – Corozal, Orange Walk, Belize and the southern district of Stann Creek to crest their banks. Two fatalities and casualties have been reported along with damage to houses, bridges and roads.
The National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO) Secretariat has provided an initial report of approximately 10,000 persons being affected by the floods.
Actions by NEMO Belize: NEMO has issued flood warning to the residents in the southern districts, encouraging residents in low lying areas to evacuate to higher ground.
Based on the rainfall produced by Tropical Storm Arthur over northern Belize and Mexico, NEMO has also issued flood warning to the residents in the northern districts, encouraging residents in low lying areas to evacuate to higher ground.
The National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) and the District EOCs in the affected areas have been activated.
Search and Rescue Operations: NEMO is also coordinating a national Search and Rescue operation using five (5) helicopters, one (1) Fixed Wing Aircraft and over four (4) dozen boats from the Belize Coast Guard, Belize Defence Force, British Forces Belize and the private sector.
Shelters: Fifteen (15) shelters have been opened in the Stann Creek (Southern) district to accommodate persons affected by the floods.
Five (5) shelters have been opened in Orange Walk (Northern) district to accommodate persons who have evacuated.
Evacuation of Residents: The National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO) Secretariat reported that approximately 40 persons were evacuated by helicopters.
Needs: NEMO has identified the following initial needs: Damage Assessment to quantify the extent of the damage and identify needs; support for Search and Rescue and Evacuation Operations in the Southern Districts at this time; and relief support to the affected residents.
Actions by Coordinating Unit: CDERA has made contact with the affected state to offer any assistance required and has briefed the Chairman of CDERA.
This is considered as a Level 1 event, which means that the situation is managed at the national level. It is recognized that the potential exists for an upgrade of this level once further assessment is undertaken on damage to the south and any increase in flooding in the north.
(Published Monday, June 2, by The Caribbean Disaster Emergency Response Agency.)